Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Holidays and Retail Life

I have worked in a retail setting my entire working life.  It still, to this day, amazes me that people can get worked up about a store being closed for one day.  One day!  And this time it's even in the middle of the week - with work days on both sides.  I'm pretty sure you aren't going to die because you didn't buy milk, and I'm sure you really need that toothpaste or else all your teeth will fall out tomorrow.

Now over Christmas - that can be a different story.  Depending on where the holiday falls there can be up to 4 days off in a row in some cases.  But still - plan a smidge ahead people!  You can plan your company, your food, and your travel, but you can't realize you're going to run out of your prescription?  It's not that hard.

My other favourite thing is the people who seem surprised we (people in the retail world) get a holiday off.  I know not all stores are closed for a holiday, but where I have worked for the last 14 years we have closed for every holiday.  Every holiday!  Why is this now a surprise, here, today, when tomorrow is another holiday?

Sadly (sort of) this Canada Day falls on a Wednesday.  What do we already know about Wednesdays?  They're my regular day off.  This is great in that I get the day off and I get paid this week, but not so great is that my family is home and we're having company (that's not the bad part) so I won't get my usual home-work done this week.  You know, laundry, tidying, vacuuming, grocery shopping, even the gardening I try to fit into my "quiet" day.  Of course this is greatly outweighed by the family who is coming to help us build a fence tomorrow (thankyouthankyouthankyou!) and visit and eat and all that.  But my week feels incomplete if I don't fit in some time for me, you know?

Anyway, to sum it all up, I'm happy my workday is over today - it was busy in spurts, and frustrating in spurts, and I felt like unplugging all the phones - I'm looking forward to some extended family time tomorrow, and I'm hoping desperately it doesn't rain all day.  That will make for some grumpy fence builders, and cooped up kids.  The city has so many fun things planned for tomorrow it will be sad if they have to be cancelled because of weather.

What do you have planned for your mid-week holiday (or July 4th celebrations, Yanks)?  I hope all my readers have a great time doing what you do!


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Morning Splash Pad Adventures

Today I took my 4 year old to a downtown splash pad park.  This park has climbers, a large splash area and lots of trees and grass.  I took a blanket and staked a claim in a nice shady area and unloaded our gear.  (I didn't take as much stuff as it sounds - just her towel and clothes, snacks, water and a book for me)

Little Miss walked all around the splash part - she watched the kids shrieking and playing and getting soaked, then she came back and told me she was going to the playground area.  Okay, whatever.  Play over there in your bathing suit.  Just don't get hurt.

I actually succeeded in reading some of my book.  I'm struggling with the joy that comes with that as I feel I've neglected to watch my kid while I was immersed in a book.  However, nothing untoward happened with all the other kids and parent and school groups around.

Little Miss did finally get almost wet, but she is so hesitant to play in the various streams of water.  She talked to some of the bigger kids, stuck her arm through a water jet, but would not really go in and play.
Little Miss in the Splash Pad
Little Miss in the Splash Pad
My miss is the one in the hat.  She got her feet wet, but that's about it.  And she was so excited this morning to go to the Splash Park!

Next time we go we will have to bring more kids along (including older Sis who is still in school until tomorrow.)  I suspect she's more likely to play in the water with someone she actually knows.  She loves the sprinker at home - how is this any different?!

I know it's the 4 year old mentality I've discussed in other posts, but it can be frustrating.  At least there were climbers for her to exhaust herself on as well.  We had a good morning anyway.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

So Delicious I Had To Share!

On the spur of the moment I purchased Oikos Key Lime Greek Yoghurt.  I've been using plain greek yoghurt in my smoothies for a while now, without really enjoy the thick, plain greek yoghurt.  Tonight at the grocery store the Oikos flavoured 4 packs were on sale, so I bought two - strawberry and key lime.

I just peeled the lid back on the key lime flavour and licked it off.  And then I went to heaven.  I could not wait to plunge the spoon into the delectable dessert flavoured greek yoghurt!

I know this sounds like a pitch where I'm about to try to sell this yoghurt to you (and I may, in the future have those posts for items while strike my fancy) but this is just a for-real that was SO GOOD post!

Have any of you had that "oh my gosh this is so much better than I thought it'd be!!" experiences - I'd love to hear about them.  Please, comment them!

That's all for now, just had to share with my loyal readers.  Toodles!

A Strange Thing Happened To Me Last Night

Something completely untoward happened to me last night.  It almost never happens.  It's only happened a few times before...

I opened a bottle of wine and didn't really like it!

I know, horror of horrors.  It was a red, the description sounded good, but the flavours were not that great.  I'm sure part of it was the sandwich I was eating it with was not complementary to red wine in general, but that doesn't usually dampen my enthusiasm for a wine.

The label described it as "bold & nostalgic - with hits of sweet red berries, creamy chocolate & black cherry"  Sound good, right?  Wrong.  I think it's the chocolate - just doesn't suit my palette.

Now don't get me wrong - I will drink this wine.  It just might take me a few evenings to get through it.  Most wines I finish in 2 nights (unless I'm actually sharing with someone) but this one will be 3 or 4.  It's ok on it's own, but it doesn't seems to pair nicely with anything I've eaten lately. I will suffer through it...

I don't like giving products bad reviews so I'm not going to name this wine.  I'm curious if anyone out there with a pickier palette than me has had many bad wines.  There is one grape in the white wine world I'm not a fan of either, can't come up with the name right now though.  I will say that I will drink any and all wines unless they are actually skunky or gross - if it's just a too sweet or too dry problem I can usually work through it!

Any other winos out there?  Have any great wine experiences you'd like to share?  I'm always looking for new wines to try (especially if they're $12 or less!)


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Old Friends Becoming Mom (or Parent) Friends

I am ridiculously excited. I have a coffee date tomorrow with a friend (who I love!) that I have not really spent any time with since before I had kids. My oldest child is now 6 so it's been a while. She has also had 2 girls in the intervening years so my pre-child friend is fast becoming an awesome mom friend.

This friend of mine has spent all of her time over the last few years completing a degree, often by correspondence, while having babies and toddlers and of that. She just recently finished up and I am so excited for her, not to mention in awe of the things she has accomplished during the very young child phase of her life.

Her daughters dance at the same studio as mine and now with this crazy rehearsal schedule we've been running into each other more. I was so glad she was as keen as I was to get together!   I've tried reconnecting with other old friends with much less success.

In case you can't tell I am very much looking forward to this coffee date. Partly because I'm going to indulge in some fancy (expensive) coffee and snack, and partly because I miss sitting with my friends and just talking.

I hope this is the beginning of my return to doing the things I used to do all the time before kids. Of course the things will be modified and changed to fit my current lifestyle, but so will be the people I hope to do these things with!


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Friday Night Concert in the Rain - I Still Had Fun!

I went to a concert Friday night - if you've been following me much you saw my post about how excited I was to go.  No, I'm not going to say I wasn't excited by the time it rolled around, but it rained like crazy all day.  Everyone asked me if I was still going.  I mean everyone - all my coworkers, my kids, even my husband who knows better.

I worked until 5pm.  I had a haircut scheduled for 5:30 which was about an hour, and I got drenched going the half block from my car to the salon.  When I left there it was still raining but not nearly as heavily.  My hair looked lovely - I did decline the makeup touchups (which implies I had makeup on in the first place, and I definitely didn't) as I knew I'd be standing in the rain later.

I was thinking I should eat, but I was anxious-excited for the show so I didn't want to go sit in a restaurant by myself for an hour.  I went to a coffee shop where I could see Market Square - where the concert was going to be - as well as how badly it was raining out.  The only people in the square were the crew for the show and some radio station people - oh and the people who work for the city that were putting this on.

As the time rolled on (very slowly) a few wanderers straggled around the square, then disappeared, then reappeared, sometimes standing under the radio people's umbrellas, and some people even came into the tiny coffee shop I was sitting in.
Concert in the Rain
Concert in the Rain

With about 15 minutes to go before the openers were to start I wandered across the square (it's still raining!) and down to the bathroom, and when I came out there were a few standing knots of people that I went and joined right up front of the stage.

The opening band was a little hesitant about getting out there and playing in the pouring rain, but they did it.  The band was PS I Love You and they were good - also a local band which I didn't know.  There set was loud and a little raunchy - the mix was off and I really could not hear the singing at all, but otherwise it was good!

More people had congregated to the square by this time - like maybe 50.  It was still raining.  They squeegeed off the stage a few times and hesitantly moved some of the tarps off some of the stuff.  By the time the main act was to begin the rain had let up - not fully stopped, but let up.  However by this time I was soaked right through my coat and I was freezing!

Then Hawksley Workman appeared and everyone got excited and he made some comment about how we were all crazy for being out in the rain, but thanks for being here!  He disappeared for a bit while they continued to set up (and clean up), and his set started at 9pm.

They were fabulous.  Their mix was right and I could hear everything perfectly.  Might have helped that I was able to take my hood off!  The sky cleared right up (well, mostly) and I even dried up a bit.  This Hawksley Workman guy (who I haven't seen in at least 10 years) is a real character.  Lots of rambling conversation, as well as lots of great guitar work - the songs were awesome!   I even enjoyed the ones I didn't know!

All-in-all fabulous evening with myself for company, and some rain on my parade.  I'd do it again for sure.  Thanks to hubby for volunteering to stay home with the girls - and no thanks to my friends who all thought I was crazy for going to this despite the rain.

Share your concert stories in the comments - or comment on how truly crazy I am for standing in the rain!


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Letter Writing in the Modern World

Yesterday I wrote a letter.  I mean a pen and paper, put it in an envelope with a stamp, letter.  I even managed to get it into the mail before an entire week had passed.

I don't know when I wrote a letter last.  I had only written a few lines before I started to get that hand cramp I remember so well from highschool days of writing pages of essays or whatever.  It made me a little sad to realize letter writing is so much work now.

When I was a kid I would write to pen pals, to friends who went away for a week or two in the summer, or even my best friend who went to University a year before I did.  I even still have the boxes of stationary I bought for those letter writing occasions.  Of course I pulled those out before I got down to business.  Stationary really sends the message that I definitely want to be writing to you.

When did you last write a letter?  I had to end my letter with the idea that my recipient would already know all the news I wrote down for her, which made me a little sad.  A good friend of mine moved away and then right away took a trip to Europe.  So I thought she would enjoy a note from me, in her new mailbox, when she returned.  I hope she appreciates it.

Tell me about your letter-writing experiences.  Does anyone have regular correspondence (not including Christmas cards)?  Am I the only one left who owns stationary?  I'm intensely curious if letter writing has not fallen as far out of fashion as I feel it has.  So let me know!


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Friday Night Out - I'm So Ready For A Concert!

On Friday I am going out.  Hubby is staying home with the kids and I am spending an evening with myself.  Potentially others may join me, but right now that is totally secondary.

There is a free concert in the city's market square and I am so there.  I missed the free concert in the square last year but hubby and I did catch the one the year prior.  I am feeling musically deprived (sort of) lately, and I think this will put the spring back into my step.

Before kids, and even before hubby, I was a concert junkie.  Although I was never one for the late, late bar scene (I like to go to bed before 10pm) I would willingly forgo my bedtime for a good rock concert.  Now I'm more an arena concert person, solely because I don't want to pay a babysitter into the wee hours of the morning.  Yes, I realize that makes me seem more old and less cool, but that's the reality.  There are a few bands I would still brave the late bar concert scene for, but not nearly as many or as often I used to.

I miss concerts where I can just weasel my way up front (I'm small) and totally swoon to whomever is up there making great music.  I can't put into words how much I'm looking forward to this on Friday night.  The show starts at 8pm and I work until 5.  I've actually booked myself a haircut for 5:30 that may be an hour, but what am I going to do in between?  I guess I need to eat something, but really that will take 20 minutes.  I could show up really early - I've been known to do that before...

People seem concerned that I'm going to this function alone - why?  I used to do tons of stuff alone before I had a husband and kids.  I'm someone who loves company, but only if they're going to enjoy what I'm doing as much as I am.  I don't want someone to tag along and then not have a good time.  Then I don't have as a good a time because I'm worrying about their state of mind.  That's less fun.

So I can't wait - in case you didn't pick up on that.


Making (And Keeping) Friends Through All Stages of Life

I find the act of having friends changes many times through life. Is anyone out there still friends with kids from Kindergarten?   I'd guess very few. I used to think I was not good at making friends, but I've since decided that's not the case. Sometimes the people you think you want to befriend are not the ones you should befriend.

It took me a long time to figure out who I actually wanted to be friends with in high school. Turns out who I thought I liked I didn't connect with. The problem turned out to be me. I didn't know who I was, so how could I know who to surround myself with? Once I embraced my quirks and individuality I found those people who liked me for me (and my quirks!)

Now that I'm a grownup and a mom, I feel friends are much different than when I was a kid.  I had a collection of highschool friends, then University friends, and now, while I still talk to some of those past friends, my friend requirements have changed again.  It's easy to be friends at school when you all have classes together, or live together, or share teams and other interests.  Once you are truly on your own some of those friendships are hard to keep alive.  For me, I moved into marriage and kids which left some of my friends behind.  They were on the same path, just lagging a bit further behind than me.  Also I moved apart from my friends - even thought we are still in the same town we are scattered around so we don't bump into each other without significant planning.

Once you throw kids into the mix, all bets are off.  I chose to breastfeed, which means being with your baby 24/7 for what feels like ever.  In reality it's like 4 months until baby can sleep for a long stretch or be more amused by other people, before mom (milk factory) can escape for a bit.  I think it's normal to lose some non-parent friends at this stage.  You're not in the same life phase, and oftentimes they just don't get what life is like with kids.  But you are also in a perfect place to make new-parent friends.  They can be found a playgroups, libraries, daycare centres etc.

Right now, in my life, I have very few friends that I see socially.  I'm 35, married, 2 kids ages 4 and 6, working 30+ hours per week and blogging.  There are a lot of people I think of as friends, but the categories they fall into are more co-worker, neighbour, and friends I talk to online but rarely see in person.  And then, of course, there's my husband who's my best friend, and the friend I spend all my time with. :)

I try to plan and coordinate events or things to do with my friends, but life is busy for everyone.  Now that my kids are finally out of toddlerhood and are happy with Dad or babysitter putting them to bed, I'm finding it easier to get out more.  This Friday night I'm going to a concert - but likely by myself as I haven't found that perfect music-loving friend that would enjoy it as much as me.

Not sure if there's a moral to my story, but I've always been interested in the social changes people go through in life.  Anyone out there have any other thoughts on making friends throughout life?  Or tips for maintaining friendships through the busy stages of life?  Please leave a comment if you read this all the way through (it's a long post for me!) and share your friend-making stories.  Hope you enjoyed!


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Nature Loving Mom

I am a self-described nature lover.  I love being outside, walking in the woods, reading in the sun, swimming in lakes, gardening and any other outdoor activity.  I've been hanging out my laundry every possible moment.  We try to keep our birdfeeders filled so I can watch the birds.  It's in my DNA, and it was the way I was raised.

A few weeks ago the family and I saw a spider egg sack hatch out what looked like a million spiders.  They were cute and tiny and yellow.  We have always had a ton of spiders around our house and yard.  I think spiders of all sorts are super cool (they eat tons of bad bugs!) but also pretty creepy.  Last summer I had huge yellow spiders in my vegetable garden (at the tomatoes) and they were cool and had yellow patterning, but creepy because they were so big. If I remember correctly they were called "Yellow Garden Spiders" - original name, right?  I'm a little concerned these are the same brand of spider.  I've already seen them on my tomato cages, as well as on my fold-up clothes dryer I have outside.  These tiny spiders make cute tiny webs, but when they get bigger they will stop being so cute, I'm sure.

I remember last summer there being spiderwebs everywhere every morning.  The girls needed me to clear out all the areas on their play structure every day - and if we don't go out one day the webs are huge the second day!  There would also be webs from the car's mirrors to the house - you'd walk through them every morning because you could not see them!  Ick.  But the worst were the huge webs all through the garden with these giant spiders right in the middle - and if you broke the web apart it was back an hour later with the same giant spider in the middle.  And all I want is to pick my delicious tomatoes!  Very cool, though, were the dead bugs captured in these huge webs, all wrapped up and likely already digested by the spider's venom.  And being able to look at these spiders up close just increases their creepiness, but also my fascination with these amazing predators that help me keep my mosquito population under control!

I don't plan to do anything to discourage the spiders as I do, for sure, have an awesome fascination with these helpful, creepy, creatures!


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Is "Mom" a Style?

I like to think I'm not totally un-fashionable.  However sometimes I know that's not true.  I think Mom Fashion should totally be a style.  You know, the jeans, t-shirt and ponytail look?  Or maybe leggings and longer shirt that may or may not go with the pants.  I embrace my random looks.  One day I can put on a dress and actually do something with my hair and I can look great.  But the next day I can't even find 2 socks that match, so I just don't care.  On those days I wear whatever pants are in the heap and aren't really dirty - or at least that's my aim but I'd be lying if I said there weren't days I got to work only realize I did spill or smear something on these pants.  Such is the life of a mom.

Parents with kids: what's your style?  Do you feel like you have a style?  Or is just aiming for clean, almost coordinated clothes style enough?

I see lots of moms in my travels around who look fabulous.  I often wonder how they have time to do their hair and keep it looking nice when my kids are always wanting to "brush" or "style" my hair, so however it started is not the way it looks right now.  Or where they got that outfit that totally goes with everything, everywhere, all the time; and if it cost them more than I make in a week.  Conversely I see lots of moms who tried maybe as hard as me, or maybe less, with their "look" for the day.  It's a funny thing.

I feel a bit like dads have it easier.  They wear one hairstyle (generally) and most of their tops match any of their pants.  Their choices for the day are running shoes or sandals, and long sleeves or short?  I know lots of men out there put a lot of time and effort into their appearance, just not a lot of the ones I know personally.  I'm not saying the men I know don't like nice - quite the opposite.  I'm just saying I bet they didn't agonize over their choices when they got dressed in the morning.  Some days I can pick out about 5 outfits and none work for how I'm feeling that day - this is not helped by my weight loss and subsequent lack of clothes that fit nicely.  I'm slowly remedying this, but it's a long (potentially expensive) process.

So to go back to my original point: I am lobbying for Mom to be a style which encompasses everyone who literally throws something on because their kids are yelling that they have nothing to wear/eat/pack for lunch etc. in the mornings.  It's not a sloppy style, unless that's really what you're going for.  It's just a relaxed look that says "I have better things to do with my life than worry about my outfits every day."


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Working Mom Stress

I am currently quite content with my work life/home life balance.  I work 4 days a week with my day off being Wednesday, which breaks up the week quite nicely.  I use my day off for fun things like laundry, groceries, vacuumming, general tidying and sometimes (only sometimes mind you) a haircut or waxing appointment. The kids are at school and daycare, but I usually collect them early so we can get homework done and have some time together.  It's been working out very nicely.

Now one of the girls at work has given her notice and we will be short staffed on Wednesdays.  Logical that I would jump back into the Wednesday shifts I worked a year or more ago.  But I don't want to - and I have a boss who asks your opinion (usually) before big changes are made, which is great, but saying I don't want to work Wednesdays does not mean I will not get scheduled on Wednesdays.  I've already given a list of days I'm unavailable, based on appointments and plans made earlier under the assumption that I wouldn't be working those days - and that actually turned out to be almost half the Wednesdays of the summer.  I do hope boss-man does think about hiring someone part-time.  I'm feeling serious anxiety about the whole thing.

To top it off, eldest daughter is enrolled in a modelling/acting/talent course at an agency, and when she completes that (at the end of July) they will be marketing her for jobs in that arena.  That means there's the potential for auditions and such in Toronto or other areas that we would have to plan around with short notice.  Also not looking good for short-staff problems at my workplace.  I did inform boss-man of this as well, in hopes of enticing him to think seriously about hiring other help.